Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
There is a large untapped pool of federal workers, highly trained and disciplined, who already know a thing or two about operating safely in a contaminated environment. These personnel may be among your neighbors, the ones who put on a military uniform at least one weekend a month. There are already contingency plans for them to respond to domestic mass casualty situations involving radiation, biological, or chemical agents. They have been training since the months after September 11, 2001. They should be alerted now, and staff should be mobilized immediately to refine contingency plans to match the worst case and most likely case scenarios for COVID-19 in the United States.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Army Chemical Corps units, whose core mission had always been decontamination of U.S. military personnel and equipment from radioactive dust, biological, and chemical agents, had a new mission. They would perform the same scouting/surveillance to define a contaminated area’s boundaries and they would perform the decontamination mission, including for people who had become casualties, the end of the decon line becoming the beginning of the medical treatment line. The same mission, only different: instead of “green” equipment, they would go “white” as in medical and civilian lab white, responding to mass casualty incidents inside the United States. They do not carry weapons, because it is not a military threat environment.
Most of these units are in the Army Reserve or National Guard, so they are distributed across the country already. So are the many medical units that are overwhelmingly in the U.S. Army Reserve, but medical personnel are already going to be needed in their communities in their civilian medical roles. Watch for news around the 76th Operational Response Command, headquartered in Utah.
To be clear, medical personnel, who are mostly in the Reserves, are already going to be needed in their full-time medical jobs. The need here is not for decontamination but for potential large scale patient handling, in which it would be helpful to bring in a set of “orderlies” who are well versed in working in full protective suits and in not compromising themselves or others in the process of entering and exiting areas with potential biological contamination (quarantine area). Hence, the Chemical Corps soldiers and officers whose training is not far off the CDC protocols already.
Vice President Pence should be grabbing the top brass, including the relevant Army Reserve generals, by the lapels and demanding a contingency plan to mobilize soldiers who are already trained in the disciplined wearing of protective equipment and in observing and maintaining procedures that limit and isolate contamination. Anticipating the CDC and US Public Health Service personnel may well need qualified bodies, to deliver meals, linens and help in movement or processing of larger numbers of infected or potentially infected individuals, our military should already be leaning forward tonight.Published in